- In the East and in New England, liberal preachers reinterpreted the Christian tradition for their congregants, constructing new and unorthodox understandings of Christian systematics. One significant reinterpretation of Christian systematics was the Christian Social Gospel.
- In the rest of the country, liberal preachers questioned the truth of Christian systematics and constructed a humanist theological tradition. Humanist preaching was teaching/preaching will still instructional and persuasive.
The liberal religious institution morphed into something new: a liberal spiritual co-op, a self-sustaining, self-governing, and self-serving enclave. Its way of being together, its internal functioning, is its message. Its process was its content. It harkened back more to the utopian communities of the 19th century than to the teaching/preaching church. This conception of the church is so dominant now in liberal religious circles as to be unseeable.
We framed the mission of liberal religion as the creation of congregations, an organizational form, rather than the dissemination of liberal religious ideas, values and practices.
Some of the results: insularity, a lack of focus in our educational programs for adults, reduction of social and public ministry as secondary concerns of the congregation, the missing "there there", the intractable financial crisis of congregations, circularity in mission definition, and ultimately, I think, slow growth and stagnation.